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Wednesday, 20 July 2011

Russell Tribunal on Palestine will convene in Cape Town's iconic District Six

The third session of the Russell Tribunal on Palestine is to convene in Cape Town in November to answer the question whether the treatment of Palestinians in Israel and the occupied territories fits the international legal definitions of the crime of apartheid.

It will meet on 5-6 November in District Six, Cape Town, site of a brutal apartheid-era forced removal. The land has remained undeveloped on the edge of the city since it was declared “a white group area” and the homes of black residents were demolished in the 1970s.

It follows sessions in Barcelona and London last year. The final session will take place in New York in 2012.

The Russell Tribunal on Palestine is an international people’s tribunal created in response to the international community’s inaction with respect to Israel’s recognised violations of international law.

In the jury, confirmed by international co-ordinator of the Tribunal, Pierre Galand, include: Ronnie Kasrils, former South African government minister, writer and activist; Michael Mansfield, British barrister; Jose Antonio Martin Pallin, emeritus judge of the Spanish Supreme Court; Cynthia McKinney former member of the US Congress, Stephane Hessel, 93, the Nazi concentration camp survivor who helped draft the Universal Declaration on Human Rights and Alice Walker, the African American author, poet and human rights activist best known for the Pulitzer Prize winning novel, The Colour Purple.

Ronnie Kasrils said, “The world expects South Africa to champion the rights of other people. That is the yardstick for South Africans to live up to.”

Members of the international support committee of the Russell Tribunal on Palestine include Nobel prize laureates, a former UN secretary general, two former heads of state, other personalities who have held high political office and representatives of civil society, writers, journalists, poets, actors, film directors, scientists, professors, lawyers and judges, see website: http://www.russelltribunalonpalestine.com/

The Tribunal will be opened by Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu. International authorities will testify whether the State of Israel’s conduct in Israel-Palestine meets the criteria of the UN Convention Against The Crime Of Apartheid. Expert South African witnesses will include Professor John Dugard, Professor Steven Friedman, Advocate Max du Plessis, and Mrs Winnie Madikizela-Mandela who will share her experiences of apartheid.

The State of Israel has been invited to make a presentation.